Friday, February 23, 2007

The joys of revision

One thing that's been keeping me somewhat entertained through this gruelling--and hopefully final--round of revisions is identifying my more bizarre writing tics, and finally eliminating those awkward phrases that have been eating at me for months but that I hadn't, for some reason, been able to do anything about. Here are a couple of examples; all but the first are from today's work:

1. Over the past several months of revision, I have discovered that I once had an inordinate love for the word "tripartite." It came up no fewer than five times in my dissertation. I no longer love this word. Its incidence has been reduced to a single use, which I've kept in just for kicks.

2. In talking about medieval faculties psychology, I keep referring to "the human faculties." What other kind of mental faculties would I be talking about? Panda faculties? Some kind of mystical, divine faculties? Academic faculties?

3. The word "profound" has been deleted everywhere that I've been able to locate it. In most cases, I didn't even need to replace it with anything--it was totally extraneous. Nothing ever needs to be called "profound."

4. I have an occasional propensity towards wordiness--writing things like "failing to possess" instead of, simply, "lacking."

5. I have decided that I am not comfortable capitalizing the words "heaven" or "hell."

6. The phrase "the usurpation of the linguistic" is simply unacceptable.

I'm sure that there are a number of other outrageosities in this (and every other) chapter. Now that I've started a list, I'm tempted to keep an eye out for more--lists do make things more fun, don't they? A couple of years ago, I started a list of my students' amusing misunderstandings of cliches; I can't remember most of them, but I do know that "to put [someone] on a pastel"* appeared at least twice. Looking for them made grading a lot more fun. The same principle applies to my own writing, apparently!

*instead of a pedestal, in case it's not obvious.

ETA: Two more student errors I've remembered:
-"slapping her resolve" (this one came up twice, if you can believe it. What must they think the phrase means?).


Hilaire said...

This made me laugh!! I love what distance from what's own writing reveals...

Hilaire said...

Oops...should have been "one's own writing"...apparently I haven't cultivated enough care in my own case!

heu mihi said...

Oh, that's all right--different rules apply for blog comments.